OTHER NEUROLOGICAL BACK PROBLEMS
Myelomalacia & Traumatic Disc extrusion
Myelomalacia is a progressive condition, which is sadly related to a dog who suffers acute Stage 5 paralysis with loss of deep pain sensation, which happens wherever severe spinal cord trauma has occurred. It is a rapid, progressive condition, whereby the spinal cord becomes ischaemic. Due to lack of blood supply, necrosis occurs, whereby the nerve tissue of the spinal cord dies, due to the trauma. The premature death (necrosis) of the spinal cord cells first appears at the site of the injury, but then slowly progresses forwards and backwards from the site of injury over time. This condition is often related to disc disease and spinal cord trauma. It can even happen after what appears to have been successful IVDD surgery in 5-10% of cases.
The signs and symptoms
- Paralysis of hind limbs
- Numbness to pain in areas lower than the injury
- Loss of tone and reflexes in the hind limbs due to the softening of the spinal cord (malacia)
- Hyperthermia (higher than normal body temperature)
- Dilated anus
It is very sad to see myelomalacia progress, as the dog becomes distressed with pain, as death of the spinal cord moves up their body toward the head. Unfortunately, there is no treatment currently available to reverse the spinal cord damage. Paralysis is always permanent, and many veterinarians will recommend euthanasia to prevent further suffering for the dog, and possible death from respiratory difficulties.
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Traumatic Disc extrusion
Another neurological condition which very commonly presents itself with the exact same symptoms as IVDD, is a traumatic disc extrusion (slipped disc). This can be commonly seen in dachshunds after vigorous exercise or with sudden impact forces. The most common cause being when dogs accidently run into doors heavily whilst perhaps chasing a ball, or hit a tree suddenly whilst out playing. Sadly another cause can also be road traffic accidents.
How does it differ to IVDD?
When a traumatic disc extrusion occurs a small fragment from a healthy disc (IVDD is a diseased disc) from the pulpous nucleus (the jelly like centre) breaks free and travels at great speed through the tough outer shell (annulus fibrosis) and whilst doing so; collides heavily with the very delicate spinal cord. This type of ‘slipped disc’ is also referred to as an ‘explosive disc extrusion’, in view of the speed at which the previously healthy disc ruptures.
Signs and Symptoms
Not to be confused with IVDD, the symptoms present depending on the exact location of the ‘explosion’, but can present with wobbly limbs, unsteady gait and inability to move forward, and often unable to use the limbs on one side. If the neck area is affected, all four limbs can be affected, and in severe cases, incontinence and even paralysis. It is therefore important to recognise that these symptoms do differ slightly from IVDD, but can also present in similar ways.
If you recognise any of these symptoms in your dachshund then please seek veterinary advice immediately.
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